The Trumpet’s Top 10 Articles of 2016

The Trumpet’s Top 10 Articles of 2016

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A look back at the most-viewed articles written in that turbulent year

The year 2016 was earthshaking, and not just because Americans elected Donald J. Trump as the next president. Here is a look back on the tumultuous year through the most-viewed articles published on theTrumpet.com in 2016.

#10 Three Men Who Saved Millions

A general interest story about the Chernobyl disaster and how three men volunteered for a suicide mission to prevent another explosion. With the lives of millions of Russians and Europeans on the line, they dove into a radioactive pool.

#9 Today’s Headline out of Britain Was Written Over 40 Years Ago!

Britons voted to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016, in a shocking referendum that triggered the Brexit process. This event was forecast in 1973 by Herbert W. Armstrong. How did he know that Britain would not be part of a united Europe?

#8 Zika Virus and the Pale Horse of the Apocalypse

The Zika virus struck Brazil and about 30 other countries, mostly in the Americas in early 2016. How does this disease relate to Bible prophecy?

#7 China Is Steering the World Toward War

China aggressively expanded its military presence in the South China Sea, building and fortifying islands located in internationally disputed waters. Editor in chief Gerald Flurry connects this to prophecies of war recorded in Deuteronomy 28, Isaiah 23, Ezekiel 4, Daniel 12, Matthew 24 and elsewhere.

#6 What the Trump Victory Means

Trumpet managing editor Joel Hilliker highlighted what Donald Trump’s electoral victory means for America now and in the future.

#5 January 2016—A Month of ‘Natural Disasters’ in Australia

Fires and floods raged in Australia in early 2016. Why did Australia suffer these severe environmental disasters?

#4 The Suddenly Poor Life: Millions Will Lose Their Pensions

Tens of millions of Americans are not going to receive the financial benefits they are planning on. This underreported trend will profoundly damage America’s economy.

#3 Germany Is Taking Over the Dutch Army

Large portions of the Dutch military are being merged with the German Army, the first small steps toward an eventual pan-European army controlled by Berlin.

#2 America’s Real Enemy

Politicians give a lot of excuses and reasons for the trouble in America, but Mr. Flurry looks at the real source of America’s problems.

#1 Bible Prophecy Foretold a Brexit!

The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union on June 23. The Trumpet’s top article for 2016 looked at how this exact event was prophesied in the Bible.

A Building Storm of Debt

What will happen to America’s debt-burdened economy under Donald Trump?
From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

There is a storm building. Not of winds or waves, but of money and debt. The United States is the cumulonimbus of pitch-black, rumbling debt: $20 trillion in federal debt, and accumulating $3 billion more every day.

The U.S. will now be led by a man who has a lot of experience with debt—although you might be surprised to hear that he personally doesn’t owe a cent. But don’t be fooled: Companies that he owns do. According to a New York Times investigation, Trump-owned companies probably owe upwards of $650 million. But Donald Trump is also part owner in many businesses, such as an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, which carries a $950 million loan from the Bank of China. Some of that debt is technically Trump’s too.

Donald Trump has borrowed billions and billions over his career. Much of it he has turned a profit on and paid back. Some of it he has not.

Will President Trump, the self-described “king of debt,” suddenly reverse course and change the debt storm’s trajectory?

Federal debt is now more than $61,000 per citizen: $61,000 for each mother, father, baby, grandmother, unemployed uncle, credit-card-happy neighbor and welfare cousin in America. Most Americans simply cannot contribute much of anything to pay down this debt. Bankrate.com says 56 percent of working-age Americans can’t even come up with a thousand dollars cash in an emergency.

Debt Is the Same as What?

Don’t blow this out of proportion, you gloom and doomsayer. Debt is not a threat, it’s a tool. Forbes explained on Jan. 14, 2016: “The correct conclusion to draw is that these people are indeed middle class in a country with a well-functioning financial system. Because of this they don’t need savings because they have access to credit” (emphasis added throughout).

You can be part of the middle class without even a thousand dollars to your name, as long as you can accumulate debt!

“[I]f we’re honest about it, credit and savings are economically the same thing,” wrote Forbes. “That most Americans don’t have $500 or so of ‘savings’ as conventionally defined simply doesn’t matter.”

Credit is really the same as savings. That is being “honest about it.” “[A]s ever in the study of things economic, it is consumption which is the important point of it all” (ibid).

There you have it! Why sacrifice, wait and save to build an emergency fund, or to buy your car, or to pay for your college when, functionally speaking, the result is supposedly the same as using an American Express card? It doesn’t really matter how you pay for itall that really counts is the ability to consume.

Sounds a lot like Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2004 remark that budget “deficits don’t matter.” Four years later, the 2008 economic storm hit.

The Bush administration accumulated $4.9 trillion in debt. The Obama administration accrued $9.3 trillion. Federal government debt has reached almost $20 trillion and now approximates the total value of every single company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the biggest stock exchange in the world.

Will the Trump administration reverse that trend? Will the growing debt storm calm or at least level off during his presidency?

In the real world beyond Washington, credit is not the same as saving, and debts cannot be perpetually paid for by swapping credit cards. Analyst Wolf Richter wrote, “So now we’re burdened with such an enormous amount of debt that I think it is very hard to even breathe for the economy. A lot of people out there are worried about this” (PeakProsperity.com, Oct. 16, 2016).

Yet America’s leaders are still trying to solve the too-much-debt problem with more debt. Richter wrote, “I mean, the Fed is still saying, We will make money for free and you just need to borrow more money, and that’s its solution to having too much debt. It’s insane when you look at it.”

America’s federal debt works out to more than $166,000 per income-tax-paying citizen.

There is another $3 trillion in state and local debt that must eventually be paid too. That’s an additional $25,000 owed per taxpayer. But Americans have no savings. They do, however, have a lot of something else: debt! Vortex in personal and corporate debt, and the U.S. debt rotation is $67 trillion. And none of this includes the promised benefits to future generations of Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

Depending on how you calculate it, America has liabilities of greater than $100 trillion. Boston University’s Laurence Kotlikoff says it is closer to $200 trillion.

That’s a potential debt storm so big it is virtually impossible to fathom. Forget those promises made because they won’t be paid. Not in full. That in itself is going to hurt a lot of people who are relying on the government for shelter during retirement.

But even the part of the debt that analysts think the government could pay is quickly blowing past America’s ability to sustain it. The total size of the U.S. economy is under $18 trillion, which equates to a government debt-to-gdp ratio of over 110 percent. That is up from 100 percent of gross domestic product in 2011.

Just eight years ago, the federal debt was about $10 trillion. It has almost doubled during the tenure of America’s current president. And it doubled during the previous administration too. Is that rate of growth sustainable?

No.

Does that mean politicians will come to their senses? That the debt storm will abate?

No.

In fact, the debt storm will probably intensify before making landfall. Total U.S. household debt hit a whopping $12.25 trillion last March, but that is still 3.3 percent below the peak that preceded the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. It has room to run. Student loan, auto and recent credit card debt are growing. Call them the 3-trillion-dollar triple-threat.

What President Trump Will Do

America’s leaders think debt is good. On December 14, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates a quarter of a point from 0.5 to 0.75, only the second minuscule increase in over 10 years. The Fed’s unstated purpose is to support consumer spending. That’s why it is keeping interest rates ridiculously low: to encourage continued borrowing?

President Trump has been seen as a disruptive figure. Will he disrupt this spinning vortex of indebtedness?

No.

Donald Trump loves debt—he admits it! He said on cnbc May 5, 2016: “Yeah, I think—look. I have borrowed, knowing that you can pay back with discounts. And I have done very well with debt. Now, of course, I was swashbuckling, and it did well for me and it was good for me and all that. And you know, debt was sort of always interesting to me. Now we’re in a different situation with the country. But I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal. And if the economy was good, it was good. So, therefore, you can’t lose. It’s like, you know, you make a deal before you go into a poker game, and your odds are so much better.”

On August 11, he said on cnbc, “[T]his is a time to borrow, and to borrow long term, so that we can have money to rebuild our infrastructure.” According to Mr. Trump, nobody knows how to use debt like him. “I’m the king of debt. I love debt,” he said (cnn, May 4, 2016).

He told cbs This Morning in an interview on June 22, 2016: “I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt; nobody knows debt better than me. I’ve made a fortune by using debt, and if things don’t work out, I renegotiate the debt. I mean, that’s a smart thing, not a stupid thing.”

And what if America borrows more than it can handle? Mr. Trump has that inevitability covered too: “You go back and you say, ‘Hey, guess what? The economy just crashed. I’m gonna give you back half’” (ibid).

According to the Brookings Institution, the national debt may grow by almost as much under President Trump as under President Obama. Brookings estimates $9.5 trillion in additional debt over the next 10 years.

Those estimates will rise. If there is one thing America has proven in recent history, it is that it knows how to underestimate spending.

And while America embarks on its greatest debt binge ever, a storm of epic proportions will be developing offshore. On land, all may appear sunny and tranquil. Debt will buoy the stock market; consumption will give the appearance of prosperity; temporary jobs will be created.

And then one day the storm will roll in. Suddenly the skies will darken. The wind will blow. The rain will fall. And a tidal surge of epic proportions will wipe America’s debt-based economic system right off the map.

Until then, you have a choice. Join the majority of Americans who build their financial houses on sand. Or build upon a sure Rock foundation. Begin by reading Solve Your Money Troubles!

INFOGRAPHIC Meet the Founders of Modern Education

From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

theTrumpet.com Translated

Trumpet website now available in German, Dutch, French and Spanish
From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Speakers of German, Dutch, French and Spanish can now read theTrumpet.com in their own languages, thanks to the efforts of volunteer translators who are members of the Philadelphia Church of God.

TheTrumpet.com launched on Feb. 15, 2016, in German (diePosaune.de); on November 18 in French (laTrompette.fr) and Dutch (theTrumpet.nl); and on November 30 in Spanish (laTrompeta.es). The new sites include regularly updated articles, an archive, literature library and translations of Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s Key of David television program. The department also opened associated accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube, which are accessible on the homepage of each site.

The Church, which publishes the Trumpet and theTrumpet.com, includes a translations department staffed almost entirely by Church member volunteers. Working remotely from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, Suriname and the United Kingdom, about 50 volunteers, dozens of whom have been serving for years, have produced about 30 videos, more than 250 combined pieces of literature and more than 60 lessons of the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course for the four websites.

The German version of theTrumpet.com features a newly translated article each week; a literature library containing 50 quarterly editions of the Philadelphia Trumpet newsmagazine; 27 books, booklets and reprints; and 17 Key of David and diePosaune.de videos. The literature is translated and edited by Austrian, Canadian, German and UK members Hans Schmidl, Emanuel Maximoff, Annette Ommen, Peter de Lauw and Herta Geisler. The videos are voiced over by Maximoff. The site was developed and launched by Netherlands member Aart van Halteren.

The French-language website features an archive of four years’ worth of articles. LaTrompette.fr includes several videos translated from the English site by Canadian members Pierre Vernier and Tony Chiasson and recorded by Belgian member Paul Fontinoy, such as “Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg en 90 Secondes” (“Who is Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg? In 90 Seconds”) and a Key of David program titled “Pourquoi vous devez surveiller Jérusalem” (“Why You Must Watch Jerusalem”).

The Dutch-language website features regularly updated news and commentary and similar videos dubbed over with Dutch subtitles translated by Van Halteren’s wife, Irene, and assisted in editing by Netherlands member Egbert Raedt van Oldenbarnevelt. It also includes a literature library of more than 40 books, booklets and reprints.

The translations department plans to post new content every business day, including articles, Key of David programs, transcripts, chapters from books and booklets, and full books and booklets as they are completed. The department also hopes to produce occasional Dutch-, French- and German-specific news written exclusively for theTrumpet.nl, laTrompette.fr and diePosaune.de.

The Spanish-language website offers 48 literature titles, translated over the years by numerous volunteers. It also includes a handful of videos and 91 back issues of La Trompeta newsmagazine. LaTrompeta.es manager Deryle Hope said the site is scheduled to be updated with fresh articles two to three times per week and with a new Key of David every week, translated and voiced over by Spanish department head Carlos Heyer.

Foreign language translations manager Edwin Trebels said the department can now respond to world events much faster than before, posting articles within a day, rather than within one month (with the Spanish print edition of the Trumpet) or within three months (with the German, French and Italian editions). Readers no longer have to wait as long for good analysis on world events, he said.

With websites and much of the literature library in place, the department aims to increase its content and its offline and online readership in 2017. Department head Brad Macdonald and Trebels are exploring an effective digital marketing strategy for bringing the pcg’s message to exponentially more people.

“The websites are still young and continue to be fine-tuned,” Macdonald said. “But we are doing our best with the resources at our disposal to support Mr. Flurry as he fulfills the full scope of the pcg’s Revelation 10:11 commission.”

The department also translates into Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, Norwegian, Afrikaans and Hebrew. An Italian-language site (laTromba.org) is planned for the coming months.

SocietyWatch

From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Black Lives Matter defends Cuban Revolution

After Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s death on Nov. 25, 2016, Black Lives Matter published an editorial praising his legacy: “Lessons From Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante.”

“Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,” the group wrote. “And there are lessons that we must revisit and heed as we pick up the mantle in changing our world, as we aspire to build a world rooted in a vision of freedom and the peace that only comes with justice.”

Black Lives Matter picks up a mantle dropped by a dictator who locked up one out of every 18 Cubans as political prisoners in the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution, an incarceration rate higher than that of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. Yet the authors insist that he offers lessons of “freedom” and “peace.”

“From Fidel, we know that revolution is sparked by an idea, by radical imaginings, which sometimes take root first among just a few dozen people coming together in the mountains,” the authors continued. “It can be a tattered group of meager resources, like in Sierra [Maestra] in 1956 or St. Elmo Village in 2013.”

The Sierra Maestra Mountains were where Fidel and Raúl Castro took refuge in 1956 after returning to Cuba from exile in Mexico. From this base, Castro and his followers launched the revolution that caused the Communist takeover of Cuba. This editorial links Castro’s “tattered group” to the 30 people who met in Los Angeles’s arts district to found Black Lives Matter.

The authors posthumously thanked Fidel Castro for harboring Assata Shakur (a former Black Panther who murdered a New Jersey state trooper), as well as other self-
described black revolutionaries like Michael Finney, Ralph Goodwin, Charles Hill and Huey P. Newton, who were charged with murder.

“With Fidel’s passing, there is one more lesson that stands paramount: When we are rooted in collective vision, when we bind ourselves together around quests for infinite freedom of the body and the soul, we will be victorious,” the authors concluded. “As Fidel ascends to the realm of the ancestors, we summon his guidance, strength and power as we recommit ourselves to the struggle for universal freedom. Fidel vive!”

Black Lives Matter masquerades as a human rights group concerned about African-Americans and police brutality. This editorial reveals its real goals, as does its 13 guiding principles listed on its website. The manifesto demands independent political power, direct democratic community control of all law enforcement, collectivism, socialism, and the destruction of “the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.”

The Movement for Black Lives, the name for the 50 organizations representing the ideology of the Black Lives Matter movement, released a policy statement in August 2015 that unabashedly called for collective ownership of resources, banks and businesses; a highly progressive income tax; a guaranteed minimum income; and other planks of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

Depression on steep rise among U.S. teens

Half a million more American teenagers experienced a major depressive episode in the past year compared to 2005, according to a national study on depression published in the November 2016 issue of Pediatrics.

In a follow-up article in the same journal, pediatricians Anne L. Glowinski and Giuseppe D’Amelio said the study sounded “an alarm” about a “disturbing development” in adolescent depression and anxiety.

The study evaluated more than 350,000 Americans from 2005 to 2014 and determined how many suffered from such episodes each year. Psychologists define a major depressive episode as “a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities consistently for at least a two-week period.” The prevalence of reported cases in teens rose from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014—a 37 percent increase.

These numbers suggest that roughly 2.8 million adolescents self-report having a major depressive episode each year. In 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated this number to be up to 3 million. But as Time reported in its November 2016 cover story, “Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright,” experts “suspect that these statistics are on the low end of what’s really happening,” since with issues like depression and anxiety, people are “deliberately secretive.”

WorldWatch

From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Europe marches toward a military

European Union plans for uniting member countries’ militaries have been little more than hopes and schemes—until now.

On Nov. 14, 2016, EU defense and foreign ministers agreed on concrete steps that will significantly increase cooperation among European militaries. The European Commission announced further plans on November 30 for the EU to jointly boost spending and research new technologies.

This outline is not an overt plan for an EU army but is a specific, practical approach for eventually achieving just that.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said November 10, “[W]e can only succeed in providing security to our citizens if we work together as a true Union, with the full potential of a superpower, in the field of security and defense.”

“It’s more than just ‘blah, blah, blah,’” an unnamed EU diplomat said, according to the EU Observer. “There’s a new level of political ambition and a document with concrete tasks and a detailed timetable for implementation” (Nov. 15, 2016).

The EU will now create a limited military headquarters. It will command training missions and logistics, but military missions will still be run by national governments. Italy’s foreign minister said this was “not yet a European general staff” but was intended to become one. The EU will also establish a European Medical Command.

This compromise sums up the progress the EU made in November. A military headquarters unauthorized to head military missions is absurd, but this step is all EU nations can agree on—for now. Once it is operational, it will be a small matter to make good use of the investment and authorize it to do what it was built to do: command and control European military missions.

The defense and foreign ministers also agreed that the EU needed joint military forces that can be sent to “situations of high security risk in the regions surrounding the EU.”

“EU battle groups have existed for 10 years but have never seen action, in part, because participating states never wanted to foot the bill,” wrote the EU Observer (ibid). The ministers took some major steps toward changing that.

Under the new plan, these groups will be funded from the EU’s budget. The ministers also agreed that EU nations should not be penalized as firmly if extra defense spending takes them into debt.

On November 30, the European Commission proposed further steps toward spreading this cost around. The EU would spend about $100 million per year on research, increasing up to $500 million after 2020. EU institutions, including the European Parliament, would have a say on how this money is spent.

EU members would also spend $5.8 billion on new jointly shared equipment. This money would be put up by individual nations rather than from the EU’s budget. EU budgetary rules on national debt would not apply to any money borrowed to finance this spending.

The Commission argues that EU nations waste $27 billion to $107 billion by not working together.

These practical steps toward a European military are being supported by the United States. Washington officials praised the increased spending proposed on November 30.

Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president is also accelerating Europe’s push for a military. European leaders and thinkers, such as Munich Security Conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger, have voiced hope that “Trump shock” has “dramatically grown” Europe’s willingness to arm itself.

Finally, Britain’s exit from the EU is also removing a major block on EU spending. The push toward an EU military is accelerating like never before.

Angela Merkel plans to ban the burka

Germany’s chancellor announced on Dec. 6, 2016, that she wanted Germany to ban the burka, the Muslim full-face covering. “The full-face veil is not acceptable in our country,” Angela Merkel said at the Christian Democratic Union’s convention, to great applause. “It should be banned wherever it is legally possible.” The ban will probably apply to schools, government buildings and when driving.

This is a revolutionary step: the moment Germany joins Europe’s cultural clash with Islam.

Merkel, who has defined her chancellorship with an unpopular decision to open Germany’s borders to migrants from the Middle East, is now taking a step that few European countries have made.

Thus far, Germany has fought terrorism by focusing on individual terrorists, raiding houses, and cracking down on incitement to violence. The burka ban is the first time it has targeted a cultural symbol of a more radical and repressive strain of Islam. Germany is starting to accept that it is involved in a clash with a religious movement, not just a few individuals.

Europe, especially Germany, continues to build toward a clash with radical Islam.

Crisis looming in Algeria

Algeria “will probably implode” if 79-year-old, wheelchair-bound President Abdelaziz Bouteflika dies. That was the somber assessment of journalist Stephen Pollard on December 3, in his article “How Algeria Could Destroy the EU.”

“The Islamists who have been kept at bay by his iron hand will exploit the vacuum,” wrote Pollard. “Tensions that have been buried since the civil war will reemerge. And then Europe could be overwhelmed by another great wave of refugees from North Africa” (Spectator).

Algeria has a troubled history of conflict and terrorism. The nation’s “black decade,” the civil war of 1991 to 2002, killed over 150,000 people and internally displaced more than a million.

Bouteflika helped end that war when he became president in 1999. But even his strong-arm polices have not fully pacified Algeria.

One of the worst incidents came on Jan. 16, 2013, when Islamists seized a natural gas facility in eastern Algeria; 39 foreign workers and 29 terrorists were killed. The Algerian government said some of the attackers had come from Egypt and had even participated in the 2012 assault on America’s embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Watch Algeria for signs of further destabilization. Both Europe and radical Islam are undoubtedly preparing for the end of Bouteflika’s reign. Algeria may yet become a pivotal battleground between these two powers.

Egypt shifts toward Iran

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been close allies, but there are indications that the strategic alliance is breaking down.

In April, Saudi Arabia promised to provide Egypt with 700,000 tons of refined oil products per month for five years. But the cooperation was undermined in early October, when Egypt voted for a United Nations draft resolution implicitly backing Russia’s decision to bomb Syrian rebel groups, essentially siding with Russia and Iran in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Saudi Arabia opposed the UN resolution and criticized Egypt for supporting it. In October, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company, halted indefinitely all shipments of refined oil products to Egypt.

Weeks later, reports emerged that Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek al-Molla had made a low-profile visit to Iran to discuss alternative oil sources. An anonymous source inside Egypt’s government told the New Arab website that through Russian-Iranian intervention, Iraq had agreed to cover Egypt’s oil needs.

Al-Monitor reported that oil is bringing Iraq and Egypt closer together. “Iraq, which is … not on good terms with Saudi Arabia, wants to invest in the crisis between Riyadh and Cairo and give Egypt a chance to prevent its economic conditions from deteriorating now that its former ally, Saudi Arabia, is out of the picture,” it wrote. “Thus, Iraq gains an important Arab country like Egypt and benefits from Saudi Arabia’s loss of such an important Arab ally” (Oct. 26, 2016).

But Iraq’s gain is also Iran’s gain. Al-Monitor added: “Some Arab media outlets said the Iraqi-Egyptian rapprochement was provoking Saudi Arabia, given Iraq’s submission to Iran. …

“Now Tehran insists on the necessity of Cairo taking part in the Lausanne talks on Syria to win the largest number of supporters and for Egypt to join the Iranian alliances on the Syrian crisis.

“Iraq is certainly not going to be the sole beneficiary of supplying Egypt with oil; in addition to Cairo, Tehran may be the biggest beneficiary since it needs to strengthen its Arab alliances against Saudi Arabia ….”

If the Egypt-Saudi alliance is on the way out—and a new Egypt-Iran alliance on the way in—this could mean a seismic shift in the balance of power in the Middle East toward Iran.

Iran’s victory in Lebanon’s election

On November 7, one week after Lebanon’s presidential election, newly appointed President Michel Aoun held his first meeting with a foreign minister: Javad Zarif of Iran. The visit appeared to underscore the importance of the Iranian-Lebanese alliance and the close bond between the fledgling president and his Iranian allies.

Aoun is a Christian, but he is also a close ally of Iran, its proxy terrorist group Hezbollah and the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.

Lebanon’s unwritten laws require the president to be a Christian, the prime minister to be a Sunni, and the speaker of parliament to be a Shiite. Such guidelines have hampered Shiite Iran’s influence in Lebanon by curtailing Hezbollah’s political rise. The election of Aoun promotes a close friend of Hezbollah to the nation’s highest office.

As a former general, Aoun holds great sway over the Lebanese military. For Assad, this means a relatively safe border to his west, as well as more pressure on Sunni rebels who travel between the two nations. But the ultimate winner is Iran.

Japan’s soldiers authorized to use force

A contingent of 130 Japanese soldiers arrived in South Sudan on November 21, marking the first time Japan has deployed armed troops overseas since the end of World War ii.

The Self-Defense Force (SDF) soldiers joined United Nations peacekeepers, whose main task is to construct infrastructure damaged in the civil war that has raged since December 2013. But due to pivotal new legislation Japan passed back in September 2015, these sdf troops also have a mandate that none of their predecessors have had for 70 years: To protect UN staff, civilians or themselves, they are authorized to use lethal force.

Deutsche Welle reported, “sdf personnel are now permitted to fire warning shots to make an armed group back off and have approval to fire directly at assailants if they determine themselves to be in life-threatening danger” (Nov. 18, 2016).

In mid-December, sdf troops were reinforced with 220 additional troops and given an additional mandate to secure UN facilities in South Sudan, which have come under fire several times and are likely to be attacked again.

Since Shinzō Abe became Japan’s prime minister in 2012, he has pushed for the nation’s military to take on a greater role. This deployment represents a major victory toward that end. Tim Kelly, Reuters’s Tokyo defense and security correspondent, said, “For Japan, it actually represents a very, very big step and a very major stride away from those seven decades of pacifism” (Nov. 22, 2016).

Royal Navy: soon obsolete?

The navy that brought the world the aircraft carrier with no planes is about to reach a new level of absurdity. The Royal Navy will become the navy with no missiles, meaning it could soon be beaten by every significant navy on the planet, and perhaps even by 100-year-old ships.

The Ministry of Defense recently admitted that the British Navy would be withdrawing its Harpoon antiship missile in 2018, and it has no replacement lined up.

A navy with no missiles is every bit as useless as it sounds. The navy’s other antiship missile, the helicopter-launched Sea Skua missile, will be leaving service next year. Without these, the British Navy will be able to engage other ships only with 4.5-inch guns.

The Harpoon missiles have a range of 80 miles; the guns have a range of only 17. Royal Navy ships would retain defense capabilities such as air defense missiles, but other ships would be able to attack Britain’s warships long before the Royal Navy’s guns came within range.

The Register noted that in the late 19th century, Royal Navy (RN) ships had bigger guns than those in use now: “After 2018, the RN’s front-line warships would be hopelessly outgunned by century-old designs. … British naval credibility will vanish down the toilet—and in the modern world where actually firing at another state’s ship could provoke a full-blown war, it is credibility and implied threat that matters most.” If a war did break out in 2018 and Royal Navy ships survived the opening salvo, they would have to leave their patrols, sail back to port, and be refitted with Harpoons.

“Against any competent navy in a ship vs. ship fight, the Royal Navy is in for a humiliating defeat,” wrote Popular Mechanics (Nov. 16, 2016). Naval sources told the Telegraph that the decision was “like Nelson deciding to get rid of his cannons and go back to muskets.”

China furious at Trump

Beijing voiced its anger on December 12 over United States President-elect Donald Trump saying a day earlier that the U.S. would not necessarily be bound by the one-China policy.

The policy acknowledges China’s view that Taiwan is not an independent, sovereign, democratic nation but is instead a breakaway province of Communist China that will eventually be reincorporated under mainland rule. Since 1979, the policy has underpinned ties between Washington and Beijing, allowing the U.S. only a nonofficial relationship with Taiwan.

Mr. Trump suggested that he may wish to use the policy as a bargaining chip in the U.S.-China relationship. “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a one-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox News, mentioning China’s currency manipulation, trade tariffs, military buildup in the South China Sea, and relationship with North Korea as areas where Beijing may need to make concessions.

The statements came just nine days after Mr. Trump had angered China by accepting a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, marking the first contact between an American president or president-elect and a Taiwanese leader since 1979.

China’s state-run Global Times said China would have no motivation to “put peace above using force to take back Taiwan.” There is a need for Beijing “to launch a resolute struggle with him [Mr. Trump],” the paper said. “Only after he’s hit some obstacles and truly understands that China and the rest of the world are not to be bullied will he gain some perception. [I]n the field of diplomacy, he is as ignorant as a child.”